Released: July 7, 2001

Label: Blackground ・Virgin Records America

Genre: R&B ・neo soul ・pop ・dance-pop

Producer: Bud’da ・Eric Seats ・J. Dub ・Rapture ・Timbaland


It’s hard to believe that 2001 was 20 years ago. It was a wonderful year for music. From Alicia Keys, Michael & Janet Jackson, Destiny’s Child to Mary J. Blige there were gems flying everywhere. One of the most special records released in 2001 was from the princess of R&B, Aaliyah.

Aaliyah was one of the most successful artists of the 1990s, and has been credited for helping redefine R&B, pop and hip hop during that time. The release of her first two albums (Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number & One in a Million ranked her along the elite artists of R&B music during the mid 90s.

Aaliyah began to work on her follow up to the One in a Million album in 1998, but rescheduled its recording around her blossoming film career. In 2000, she resumed recording what will be her third album, titled Aaliyah (also known as the red album).

Aaliyah touches on the complexities of relationships, good and bad. With elements of funk, hip hop, alternative rock, neo soul, electronica, R&B and many other genres, Aaliyah remains one of the best futuristic & alternative R&B albums ever.

Aaliyah was released on July 7, 2001, debuting at number two on the Billboard 200 albums chart, selling 187,000 copies (the highest sales week of Aaliyah’s career. Eventually, the sales started to slow down for the record..and with the untimely death of Aaliyah, the sales skyrocketed so high, that the album peaked at number one on the charts and has been certified 2x platinum by the RIAA.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Aaliyah’s Aaliyah.

We Need a Resolution featuring Timbaland

Written by Tim Mosley ・Stephen Garrett

The album begins with the amazing We Need a Resolution. I remember being a kid and hearing this record on the radio (& of course eventually my mama bought the CD cause she’s a huge Aaliyah fan) and being mesmerized by the production. Produced by Timbaland, We Need a Resolution’s production is experimental to say the least, with its influences of middle eastern music and hip hop.

From a lyrical perspective, the song is about a passive aggressive relationship and we hear both parties feelings about each other. The song was a success on the R&B charts, peaking at number fifteen on the Billboard R&B charts in the US, & number six on the UK R&B charts respectively.

Loose Rap featuring Static from Playa

Written by Stephen Garrett ・Eric Seats ・Rapture Stewart

It ain’t just rhythm and blues…..

Aaliyah, 2001.

Loose Rap is one of my favorites from self-titled. Lyrically, the song is primarily about the singer being not amused by the corny pick up lines men try to score a date. Produced by Static Major, Loose Rap has electronica influences all over it, and it is definitely a highlight from self-titled. A fun fact is that Loose Rap was originally supposed to be the first single, but was replaced by We Need A Resolution.

Rock the Boat

Written by Stephen Garrett • Eric Seats • Rapture Stewart

Rock the Boat is definitely one of Aaliyah’s strongest if not best records. Lyrically, Rock the Boat has the singer giving her partner instructions on how to please her sexually. The song peaked at number fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100 before it was officially released as a single, & also peaked at number two on the Billboard R&B charts.

More Than a Woman

Written by Stephen Garrett • Timothy Mosley

More Than a Woman is a SONG! From it’s mesmerizing instrumental to Aaliyah’s soothing vocals, More Than a Woman is true perfection and is one of the perfect songs to speak of when it comes to her legacy.

With elements of pop, electro and hip hop, the song is about a woman’s promise to be more than just a woman to the man she’s interested in being with. The song peaked in the top ten on the Billboard R&B charts and was a number one hit in the UK across the board, being her first song to top the UK Singles chart. The song has been sampled & interpolated by artists like Solange, Kehlani, Ari Lennox & Drake.

Never No More

Written by Stephen Garrett • Stephen Anderson

Never No More is one of my favorite Aaliyah songs for sure. From a lyrical standpoint, the song is about a tumultuous relationship that is at its end. In the beginning she believed that she could’ve had a relationship with this man, but the hostility and the emotional and physical abuse is something she cannot endure anymore. The topic of domestic violence in this song is very important and isn’t discussed like it should be.

I Care 4 U

Written by Melissa Elliott • Timothy Mosley

I Care 4 U was Aaliyah’s favorite song on the album, and rightfully so!! Originally recorded for the One in a Million album, Aaliyah re-recorded the song for this record and you honestly wouldn’t have known it was a record from 1996. It has a timeless appeal to it. From the lyrics on to the production from Missy & Timbaland, it is just R&B greatness. It was a top 5 hit on the Billboard R&B charts, peaking at number three along with the song peaking in the top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song contains a sample of (Too Little in Common to Be Lovers) Too Much Going to Say Goodbye by The Newcomers

Extra Smooth

Written by Stephen Garrett • Eric Seats • Rapture Stewart

Another favorite of mine is Extra Smooth. From a lyrical perspective, the song is about Aaliyah not being amused by a guy that’s trying his best to win her affection.

Read Between the Lines

Written by Stephen Garrett • Stephen Anderson

Read Between The Lines is totally one of my highlights from Aaliyah. It is latin music meets hip hop, while telling women to keep their eyes open and make sure that they’re seeing the signs and reading between the lines…especially when it comes to infidelity.

U Got Nerve

Written by Benjamin Bush • Eric Seats • Stephen Stewart

U Got Nerve is a SONG!!!! Lyrically, the song is about realizing that your partner has all of the audacity in the world and you’re finally fed up with the madness.

I Refuse

Written by Stephen Garrett • Jeffrey Walker

I Refuse is a rock influenced sound and it really suited Aaliyah’s vocals 100%. From a lyrical perspective, the song is about the end of an emotionally abusive relationship.

It’s Whatever

Written by Stephen Garrett • Eric Seats • Rapture Stewart

It’s Whatever is an underrated Aaliyah song. I love the Neo soul influences throughout the record. Lyrically, Aaliyah is saying whatever happens between her and the person she’s feeling, happens. Like a “it is what it is” type of situation.

I Can Be

Written by Durrell Babbs • Stephen Anderson

Written by Bud’da & Tank, I Can Be is a song about “the other woman’s perspective.” She speaks of being content with being his side piece and being the things that his wife is not.

Those Were the Days

Written by Stephen Garrett • Eric Seats • Rapture Stewart

Those Were the Days has the singer reminiscing with her former lover of the good memories they have together.

What If

Written by Durrell Babbs • Jeffrey Walker

What If has Aaliyah playing devil’s advocate with her cheating significant other, who also has jealous tendencies because of the guilt he has towards cheating on her.

Try Again

Written by Stephen Garrett • Timothy Mosley

Try Again was a BOP okay!! I loved everything about this record when I was 9 years old. It was originally released on the soundtrack to the film Aaliyah starred in, which was Romeo Must Die, and was later included on the international pressings of this album. A song about love, Try Again became the first single to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100, based solely on airplay…and is Aaliyah’s first and only number one single on that chart.

Aaliyah’s legacy lives on through the amazing discography she left behind. Her death was such a tragedy and although I did not understand at the time..it is surely evident that she touched so many lives with her grace, presence and music. Her self-titled album changed the course of music for years to come. Even today, her music is still influencing careers. That’s what legends do. -MJ

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